Prepare your child for back to school

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) Some students are already in class, while others are getting ready to go back to school. While some kids are excited, for others, it can create some jitters. Emory Wyckoff is principal of Ridge Park Charter Academy, a free public charter school operated by National Heritage Academies. He has some tips to help kids and parents get off to a great start.

To prepare your kids for school, support them by letting them know it’s okay to be nervous and encourage them to participate in class.

New friends in the classroom 

Children are often worried about making new friends when they switch grade levels and the classroom roster is changed. Remind your child to smile and look other students in the eye. When a child is shy and looks at the ground, other students may think they don’t want to talk to them.

First day of school for kindergarten/young 5 students

For kindergarteners or young 5s, let your child know what to expect. Explain to them they will be away from home for a number of hours, they will eat lunch at school, and tell them how they will get home, whether it’s a parent picking them up, walking with a sibling, or riding the bus. Also, remind kindergarten students of some simple rules they will need to follow in class.

  • Be a good listener
  • Raise your hand for question
  • Stay seated when asked to
  • Don’t talk to friends when you should be working

Ridge Park Charter Academy provides a kindergarten camp for any kindergarten-aged child to take part in each year so they can experience the classroom setting for three mornings in a row to help ease that transition. It is especially helpful for children who have not been exposed to a daycare or preschool environment prior to starting kindergarten.

Academic challenges with a new grade 

With each new grade, students will face new challenges in the classroom. Each year will build off the previous one and the level of difficulty and the expectations will increase.

Early elementary 

Academic challenges:mastery of the fundamentals needed for the rest of their school careers is required. Children acquire basic reading and math ability; they learn computational skills, how to read words and how to read for meaning. They are required to answer questions about who, what, and where, which gives them information about character, plot and setting.

How parents can help:

  • Ask your child comprehension questions after you read a book together at home.
  • Allow them to do math problems with you when making a meal together in kitchen.

Upper Elementary 

Academic challenges: the academic emphasis is no longer on the acquisition of basic skills. The main goal in grades three to five is for children to become enthusiastic, independent readers who can use their skills to learn new material in all subjects – from history to math. Put simply, children focus on learning to read through second grade. After that, they “read to learn,” as well as read for pleasure.


How parents can help:

  • Encourage your child to look up a word they don’t know in a children’s dictionary.
  • Create skill level flash cards for math.


Middle School


Academic challenges: more independence is now required. Children need to master several unrelated classes and assignments and utilize organizational skills, perhaps maintaining a daily or weekly planner for the first time. The exposure to diverse content allows them to integrate information from one content area to another, such as reading a book for language arts that directly influences their thinking on a topic in social studies.


How parents can help:

  • Help your child get organized with a color coded system for their folders.
  • Students go from having one folder for all homework to needed several folders for each teacher.
  • Stay involved in their homework, look it over and ask them to explain it to you.
  • There is a tendency for parents to take a more hands off approach to middle school students because they are older, but they still need support.

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